What does the Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem Mean? Ceremony

Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem

Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem signals a time of rugged endurance.  The modern-day Buffalo evolved into its current form around 7,000 years ago and is a smaller descendant of the Woolly Mammoth.  So abundant and successful were these giant herds that there roaming’s darkened the Western horizon line for miles and miles as far as the eye could see.  An 18th century observer noted that, “it would have been as easy to count the number of leaves in a forest as to calculate the number of buffalo on the Plains…” (William T. Hornaday from The Buffalo Hunters)  This enduring herd animal illustrates the immensity and abundance of land and sky that was the historical Western Great Plains.

The term ‘buffalo’ is used interchangeably with bison but ‘buffalo’ is a misnomer.  Just as the native tribes of the Western continents had no connections with the country of India after which Spanish explorers renamed them, the American bison have no connection with the Asiatic buffalo.  The American bison was misnamed ‘buffalo’ in the 16th century by French invaders who referred to their ‘good hides’ as ‘bufle.’  But the Lakota call this animal Tatanka.  And to them, it is Wakan (sacred.)

“The buffalo is very sacred to us. That animal was almost like a part of our selves, a part of our souls.  The buffalo gave us everything we needed.  Without it we were nothing.  Tepee, bed, blanket, coat, drum, water bags, food, a red hot stone dropped into his stomach became our soup kettle.  His horns were our spoons, bones our knives, our needles and awls.  The sinew made our bow strings, its ribs were our sleds, his hoofs became our rattles.  His mighty skull, with the pipe leaning against it, was our sacred altar.” – John Fire Lame Deer

Before gunpowder and domesticated horses arrived on the plains, native tribes hunted buffalo on foot with their bare hands.  Disguising themselves in wolf pelts, a stealthy hunter would slowly crawl on hands and knees in among a herd and quietly strike an individual calf without causing a disturbance big enough to light a stamped.  Should the hunter spook the herd, it often meant certain death.  In those times, the dangers of the hunt equaled the reward. The bison and the Plains tribes were energetically one peoples.

The Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem recognizes that life lives on life. Life eats life. And life is born from life.  The cycles of creation and destruction are not to be feared if honored with gratitude.  We do not have to struggle to achieve our goals when we honor the resources we already have.  Abundance does not come from working ‘hard.’  It comes from learning to enjoy the effort of our tasks. White Buffalo Calf Woman brought Buffalo medicine to the Lakota people as a gift in the form of a pipe.  Because of this, the lessons of Buffalo Medicine are found within the drifting blue smoke of the sacred peace pipe.  Smoke is used as medicine in Lakota ways and teaches that wealth is a state of mind no matter what your material objects add up to.

When you are having fun, enjoying what you have, you are rich beyond measure.   If you find there is no enjoyment in the task before you, ask yourself if you should continue.   Have you secretly made a contract to suffer in the hopes that your suffering will deserve a reward?  Is it time to change tactics? All you have in life is how you spend your time.  Suffering through a task in the hopes of some future gain is a confounding trick of the mind that will never return the profits you seek until you drop the mental anguish and enjoy what you have, no matter how humble or grand.  Bison follows the easiest path.  Your personal path, though full of obstacles, is ultimately the easiest path you could take because it is the most fulfilling.  If you find you must continue in a task that seems a burden, ask yourself how you can make it fun.  Listen to the thoughts that cause your discontent. What conclusions have you made that are blocking your enjoyment? What judgments can you let go of to open the range of your experience?

Another message of Buffalo asks you to look at your relationship to prayer. A much-abused word, prayer is not about folding your hands and asking unseen forces for the things you want.  A prayer in the Buffalo medicine way is a Shaman’s gesture of wonder and awe.  It is the act of beholding the magnificence of Earth and the cycles of life and death.  Buffalo reminds you to let go of your desires long enough to receive that which you desire.  If you are too full of wanting, how can you receive that which you want?  If the Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem is meandering through the fields this month be grateful for what you have before seeking more.  By finding the sacred in the mundane we receive more than we could have ever imagined was there.

Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem – A deeper connection to the spiritual reasons for your actions is being asked for at this time.

What is the difference between religion and spirituality?  How do you spend the majority of your time each day?  Do you watch the clock and wait to be released from a job you tolerate?  Or do the hours fly by and find you ready for more the next day?  Motivations for work come from a connection with our personal gifts and our personal gifts come from our higher self.  If you are going through the motions of a job you don’t like, it is time to reconnect with your life purpose.  How do you find clarity on such an elusive notion? Especially when we are often good at a variety of things… How do we figure out what we are “supposed” to be doing.  Call on the Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem to find out.  Enter a sacred, silent space and connect with your greater spirit.

There is nothing we are supposed to be doing in life in particular except following what brings us joy.  There is no other reason to be alive than to pursue that which brings joy.  So if you have found months or years have gone by without substantial enjoyment in your day to day life… it is time to shift and open.  Your purpose is no single task or action. It is an inner state of experience.  You are not here to work in any particular profession for the profession itself. The world does not need another doctor, lawyer, writer, etc.  The world needs you- present and powerful.  We use professions- not to define who we are- but to achieve a state of peace and joy in life.  If you are not happy with your current job- Buffalo says- leave it!  There is no time to waste on anything that does not increase our enjoyment of life.  You are not in service to your chosen life tasks. Let your chosen task be in service to you and how you explore the world.

The essence of what you really are is spiritual, metaphysical, and sensational.  Connecting your day to day activities with your greater spiritual reality will bring lasting motivation and pleasure to what you do for a living.  But how do you connect to your spiritual dimension?

Buffalo says, “Ceremony.”

Ceremony is an action performed which connects your day to day personality with the larger metaphysical self. The source of your physical existence is non-physical. Buffalo medicine reminds us to always keep our tasks and goals in perspective and in connection with the energetic effects they will have on the world.

Does the word spirituality make you fidget? Does it smack of some sort of religious manipulation? Buffalo medicine seeks to clear the psychological confusion surrounding spirituality and religion.

Religion is a social institution build on membership which has specific requirements of conduct and belief.  You must act a certain way and contribute very specifically to religious institutions to be allowed to stay a member of the group.

Spirituality is free, silent, creative, and personal.  Many people today have lost connection with the inherent mystical nature of life. Growing up having to engage in repeated weekend obligations to attend church or other similar gatherings against ones will can lead to confusion about what spirituality is vs religion.  Sometimes religious events involve exposure to a hostile sermon from an angry and frightening minister. Misguided sermons easily lead children into believing that they are constantly being watched and judged for their minute by minute worth and value.  Children grow up to feel that the smallest acts of contrition (even if only a thought) will result in punishment.  Separating a child from their own inner stillness is harmful. Buffalo Medicine is an invitation to release old misguided experiences with religious institutions and not allow those memories to prevent a true connection with an inner spirit dimension.  

Spirituality has nothing to do with pain, fear, judgment, or dogmatic repetitive actions such as counting mala beads, reciting scripture, taking communion, confessing in a booth, or singing hymns.  All of those actions could very well be performed spiritually.  But when they are made compulsory and are forced onto young people against their will they are tactics of abuse.

Buffalo Medicine is an invitation to heal any damage done by irresponsible religious figures.  It is a time to take back your spiritual rights from those who have imposed on your natural thought processes and to reconnect with the joy of life’s mysteries.  How do we do that?  What do we do? Buffalo suggests you create a ceremony!  How do you do that? No one but you can tell you how to find your own conversation with the Great Mystery.  It is your birthright to discover your own sacred way. Buffalo invites you to use your imagination to create your own ceremonies.  Legalize your right to be your own authority.  Gathering the four elements together is a good start.  Lighting a candle, burning sage or sweetgrass, and do something that brings you peace.

Since the Christianization of North America began as early as the 1400’s with the Jesuit priests penetrating into tribal life to teach the bible, it is not possible to know for certain what the indigenous spiritual life was like for ancient native cultures.  After 500 years of assimilation, many people, (both native and otherwise) do not fully grasp the extent of the Western religious influences that have occurred in these past centuries.  

Before western contact, native cultures did not have a word for God.  The closest translations from their languages are “The Great Mystery”  It is important to be conscious of Christian influences and clarify for yourself what you feel is in line with your spiritual intuition, and what feels like an imposed influence from a dogmatic belief system.  Dogma is found in all spiritual efforts, from yoga to sweat lodges.  Dogma is a compulsive desire to find some kind of certainty in life.  It is difficult to live in a perpetual Mystery and it is tempting to just settle on some belief and put down the effort of questions.  Buffalo teaches us how to avoid dogmas in any environment and how to take what is true and useful from a situation and leave what is not useful behind.  There is no need to argue the philosophical point of what is and is not useful. 

The Buffalo Spirit Animal Totem is the guardian totem spirit of ceremonies and is the medicine of connecting to the joy of the Great Mystery.  You might find it strange that bones would be used in activities for finding joy.  But bones are record keepers and healing gateways into the metaphysical realm.  Bones are not a symbol of death.  They are a symbol of astounding creative design. And even if bones were symbols of death, Buffalo Medicine teaches that there is nothing to fear in that transition.  We are a continuum of eternal energy ever changing into a deeper enjoyment of Creation.

The Buffalo is one of the worlds most durable animals and her teachings speak of the capacity to weather the storm.  If Buffalo Medicine has come into your day, matters of spirituality are needing to be addressed. You are being called to redefine your spiritual ways.  Enter the silence and find your sense of peace and order.  Peace is a choice we must willingly invite into our lives.  Take charge of your spiritual health and root out the old thought patterns of guilt and shame brought by misguided Western religions. Separate from the conventions of control which Western religions brought the world.  Deepen your hearts communication with dimensions beyond your five senses.  It is your birthright to commune with the wonders of the world.  Develop your unique way of affirming the joy of life.

Buffalo Spirit Animal Positive Affirmations:

  • The purpose and meaning of my work comes from a higher dimension. 
  • I kneel to earth and acknowledge a Greater Spirit energy working through me now.
  • What I want personally now aligns with what is wanted in the greater cosmos.  
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About the author

About the author

Hi, I’m Jess.  I study and practice nature-based healing methods.  I offer healing arts workshops and life guidance in Los Angeles, California. Learn more about Jess…

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